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Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style 1

Lhoussain Simour Youssouf Amine Elalamys travel-inspired-narrative Un Marocain New York [A Moroccan in New York] (2001)2 chronicles Elalamys physical and epistemological journeys to the United States of America to receive an American education. It is replete with powerful situations and recollections that offer illuminating and problematic critique of the modern empire; furthermore, it foregrounds a counter-consciousness that is meant to oppose western inscriptions of Otherness. It also shows how previously silenced voices have managed to express agency and resistance within the ambiguities of the Orientalist tradition as it voices the subversive postcolonial attitude of the author who emerges as a dissenting voice that contests western hegemonic discourse. Elalamys subversive attitude remains intensely self-conscious and it is meant to disturb the western mode of representation of Otherness through a systematic reversal of the order of things. As I will argue, Elalamy manages to break away from the totalizing ideologies and to acquire agency that grants him more visibility within the American community. His autobiographical narrative explores discursive instances that demonstrate how inventively the Other can answer back and re-act against the wests disfigured rendition of the Oriental; he manages to symbolically wrestle the power to self-represent and take history into [his] own hands (Wise 352). Since Elalamys text is set in America, it begs a discussion of Orientalist discourse in its American configuration. Though there was no profoundly devoted tradition of Orientalism in the United States, as Edward Said would argue, the explicit involvement of America in the narration of Orientalism, whereby the European legacy of Orientalist thinking is accommodated, normalized, domesticated and popularized and fed into (Said, Orientalism 259), the American stream of perceptions, can go back to the period immediat ely following World War II, when the United States found itself in the position recently vacated by Britain and France (290). Probably the idea to keep in New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 22

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

mind is not whether American Orientalism is temporally located within specific historical junctures, but to consider it as a productive fashion and an all-encompassing manifestation whose greatest potency is within the psyche of the West itself where . . . it has the greatest aesthetic power (Sardar, Orientalism 11). Drawing on postcolonial theory, I argue that Un Marocain New York subversively reverses the rhetoric of Self and Other. Throughout this text, the author constructs the otherness of Americans as strange. He assumes the role of a subject who strategically and self-consciously manages to resist and subvert the constructed images of the orientalist ideology; he brings to the fore situations where the inscriptions of a stereotypical discourse find their most powerful expression, and through processes of reversal, he plays with the racial stereotypes, twists them and creates discursive terrains for identity affirmation. The main question is no longer whether the subaltern can speak but what s/he is saying, and how loud and clear the voice is (Rath 352). Elalamys text may be viewed as a call for radical revisions of the old body of assumptions and misrepresentations that have fostered the western Orientalist discourse. His subversive strategies acquire greater levels of importance as he strikes back for self-empowerment and self-assertion through a metaphorical penetration of American society. Theorizing Orientalism: The dimensions of Saidian model of Analysis The field of colonial discourse analysis, which has emerged as a critique of Western totalising narratives (Chapman 7), starts with Edward Saids Orientalism (1978). Though this groundbreaking work has received harsh criticism, it has nonetheless continued to inspire discussions in a number of scholarly fields. It seems nearly impossible to discuss postcolonialism without invoking Said generally and Orientalism specifically. Spivak writes that, The study of colonial discourse, directly released by work such as Saids, has, however, blossomed into a garden where the marginal can speak and be spoken, even spoken for (Spivak 56). In his The Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha acknowledges Saids text as a pioneering work that provided him with a critical terrain and an intellectual project (ix). Robert Young, too, is explicit about Saids work.

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 23

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

He contends that, Colonial discourse analysis was initiated as an academic subdiscipline within literary and cultural theory by Edward Saids Orientalism (Young, White Mythologies 159). Saids theoretical framework has proven useful to a wide variety of analytical approaches, thus securing its ongoing success. In Orientalism, Said claims that the Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences (1) that served, appropriately enough, to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience (1 -2). Said explores the place and function of the Orient as Europes cultural contestant, as one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other (1) within what he calls the discursive practice of Orientalism. Because Orientalism is based on an ontological and epistemological distinction between the Orient and the Occident, it is readily identifiable as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient (2-3). Said argues that the vast scholarship collected as evidence about the Orient served to manage and produce the Orient (3). This premise leads to the constitution of dialectic between Europe and its others in which the object of knowledge becomes indistinguishable from the object of conquest. The emphasis in Saids book, then, is on the history and tradition of thought, imagery, and vocabulary that have given [the Orient] reality and presence in and for the West (5). In other words, Said concerns himself with the internal consistency of Orientalism despite or beyond any correspondence, or lack thereof, with a real Orient (5). Said also questions the epistemological model of surveillance, the increasing ly profitable dialectic of information and control (36) implicit in the discourse of Orientalism. The object in this scenario is immediately rendered vulnerable to scrutiny and reduced to a frozen image, a fundamentally ontological and stable fact over which the observer has authority. For Said, Orientalism contains the Orient within its representations, classifies Orientals in terms of Platonic essences which render them intelligible and identifiable, and constitutes, less a vision of reality or a mode of thought, than an irreducible constraint on thought with overwhelming political consequences. New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 24

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

Orientalism revisited Saids work has received severe but insightful critiques, and the main debate revolves around the historical consistency of Orientalism. In mapping the political effects of Orientalist discourse, Orientalism occupies a delicate situation by homogenizing the sites of enunciation of Orientalist discourse, and by totalizing the ongoing practices and processes of power. Saids essentialism, thus, inscribes the occident as a self-identical, fixed being which has always had an essence and a project, and imagination and a will, while the Orient remains confined to being no more than its silenced object (Clifford 271). Said, accordingly, focuses on the epistemic transgressions of Empire rather than on the resistance of the oppressed. His model has not only been criticised for theoretical and methodological shortcomings, but also for an obliteration of the voice of the very agents he is so keen on liberating (Bekkaoui 32). Discursive resistance remains a central component in postcolonial studies, a strategy of self-representation deployed by the postcolonial text to assert collective voice, resist western cultural amnesia and participate in the charting of cultural territory, which heralds the recovery of geographical territory (Said, Culture and Imperialism 209). After repressing and repossessing the natives resistance in Orientalism, Said offers a corrective in his Culture and Imperialism and argues for a culture of resistance. The configuration resistance takes consists of reversal displays, or a rewriting and a reconstruction of the colonial text as a conscious effort to enter into the discourse of the west, to mix with it, transform it, to make it acknowledge marginalized or suppressed or forgotten histories (260). The postcolonial, thereafter, involves a critical reconsideration of the whole project and practice of colonial modernity not merely as a particular military and economic strategy of Western capitalist societies, but also itself constituting and generated by a specific historical discourse of knowledge articulated with the operation of political power (Young, Post Colonialism: an historical Introduction 383)3. This critique of colonial dynamics provided by Said, Homi Bhabha, Spivak and others can be seen as part of a larger discourse of resistance to Euro-centric

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 25

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

vision, a cultural endeavour on the part of the imperially subjected to contest Western forms of domination. The dynamics of cultural resistance: Contrapuntal consciousness and the voyage in experience reframed To retrieve the natives active access to self representation, Said introduces the evocative concept of contrapuntal reading, a postcolonial crit ical practice that offers the possibility of reading back from the point of view of formerly colonial subjects, and sheds light on the hidden colonial history which permeates literary texts. He defines contrapuntality as a process whereby incongruent social practices, native culture and imperial outline, past and present, are to be mutually considered; and he assumes that contrapuntal mediation must take account of both processes, that of imperialism and that of resistance to it, which can be done by extending our reading of the texts to include what was once forcibly excluded (Said, Culture and Imperialism 66). Through contrapuntality, which is mainly founded on the subversion of mainstream colonial narratives, Said attempts to lay bare the submerged but crucial presence of empire in canonical texts (Chowdhry 104) and to demonstrate the complementarity and interdependence instead of isolated, venerated, or formalized experience that excludes and forbids the hybridizing intrusions of human history (10 4). As Geeta Chowdhry argues, Unlike univocal readings in which the stories told by dominant powers become naturalised and acquire the status of common sense, a contrapuntal reading thus demonstrates a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history and of those other histories against which . . . the dominating discourse acts (104). Saids theorization of discursive resistance from within the dominant discourse underlines the historical-material conditions of writers and texts in an attempt to transcend the essentialist view of Eurocentric discourse. The effort of postcolonial writers, thus, is to emerge into the western discourse adopting a more playful or a more powerful narrative style able to grant full recognition to the concealed and subalterned histories. This authorising story of the intellectual as a direct experience, or reflection, of the world (Said 176) is what he codifies as the the voyage in; that is to say, the New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 26

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

incorporation and the movement of Third World writers, intellectuals, and texts into the metropolis and their successful integration there (Robins, Secularism, Elitism 30). Saids re-appropriation of the expedition motifs and the inversion of narrat ives suggest the ways in which Third World migrant intellectuals and travellers write back to the centre across a subversively disruptive liminal zone that stretches the lines of demarcation between the West and the rest. Such a process of writing back, far from indicating a continuing dependence, is an effective means of escaping from the binary polarities implicit in the manichean constructions of colonisation and its practices (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 8). The Voyage in experience, therefore, becomes in Saidian analysis an essentially interesting var iety of hybrid cultural work. Its existence is a sign of adversarial internationalization in an age of continued imperial structures. No longer does the logos dwell exclusively, as it were, in London and Paris. No longer does history run unilaterally . . . Instead, the weapons of criticism have become part of the historical legacy of empire, in which the separations and exclusions of 'divide and rule' are erased and surprising new configurations spring up (Said 244-245). The movement of the Third-World intellectuals to the metropolis, encapsulated in the concept of the voyage in is a rebellious practice (an adversarial internationalization) that seeks to recover the forgotten histories through a productive engagement with culture, with the aim of both displacing the Eurocentric logos from its position of sanctity (London and Paris) and allowing new configurations to spring up . Both the voyage in experience and contrapuntal consciousness in this sense, though I am not claiming that these theoretical paradigms account for texts that write back, are enabling concepts in reading Un Marocain New York since they allow discursive terrains to recuperate marginal voices that Eurocentric embedded power relations have long obscured. If the Western institutional processes of power and knowledge have virtually obliterated the culturally, racially and religiously different Other, Un Marocain New York expresses various discourses of opposition to the hegemonic episteme of New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 27

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

marginalization. This work displays various discursive strategies of subversion that potentially displace the centre, and articulate a much more mature and sophisticated resisting discourse that consciously seeks to write back to the West (El Kouche 80). It underlies the subversive attitude of the author whereby the act of writing back has an important political significance. I consider writing in this sense a conscious political act of resistance that aims at disturbing western discourse of power and mastery. Throughout his travel account, the author assumes the role of a subject who has strategically and selfconsciously managed to resist and subvert the preconceived images held by Americans. Homi Bhabha is among the pioneering critics to question Saids model of the natives vulnerabilit y within the intricacies of colonial discourse. Although he manages to locate signs of resistance as discursive attributes within the colonial text, he reduces the nat ives voice and agency into an effect in the colonizers split up imagination: a space which is close to the paranoid position of power, beyond the reach of authority (Bekkaoui, 63).4 By so doing, he fails to locate this very resistance as a self-consciously and politically driven act whereby the native interrupts, disturbs and reorders western authority to achieve mastery (71). Both Saids and Homi Bhabhas conceptions of the natives resistance are challenged in Un Marocain New York. Far from being trapped within the narrative of empire, and through the act of engaging counter discourse, this text develops consciously motivated strategies of opposition and resistance. If Saids model advocates an otherness which is fixed, muted and reduced to a self-conscious passive object which exists for the West, and if power and discourse are entirely possessed by the colonizer (62), Un Marocain New York attempts to dismantle the discourse of mastery through the inventive manipulation of western prejudices and stereotypes. The Rhetoric of Cultural Encounters As with Akbibs Tangiers Eyes on America5, where the author has inventively approached the Western stereotypical discourse to assert agency and voice, Un Marocain New York deploys a resisting discourse which seeks to write back to the West. It is set in America, a contact zone in which peo ple geographically and New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 28

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality and intractable conflict(Pratt 6). Pratts emphasis on contact within asymmetrica l colonial power relations (instead of domination, repression or control) creates the possibility for a resistance to a totalizing hegemonic discourse. Looked at from this perspective, Un Marocain New York engages a discourse of resistance which confirms that the margin can split the centre and emerge as a dissenting voice capable of frustrating the discourse of power. It is also an instance where the traditional configuration of Self and Other is reversed. New York and, by extension, the whole American community, become an object of scrutiny and study. This shift in agency is clearly illustrated in the following passage: Du haut du 110me tage du World Trade Center . . . du haut de ma tour, je parcours une dernire fois la ville du regard . . . Central Park nest plus quune touffe dombres aux contours parfaits, ouverte mon dsir (Elalamy 12). [Above the 110th floor of the World Trade Centre looking down from my tower, I take one last glimpse over the whole city . . . Central Park is no more than a bundle of shadows in perfect outlines, opened to my desires] From the outset, the narrator creates a horizon of expectation that allows him to explore New York City. Being positioned on some noble coin of vantage which permits him to represent the city, the author acquires visual authority and, by the same token, shifts into the rhetorical gesture of surveillance. In his Rhetoric of Empire, David Spurr argues that to look at and speak to not only implies a position of authority; it also constitut es the commanding act itself (14). Thus, the position adopted by the author in his travel narrative becomes similar to the traditional position of the Western traveller during the colonial era when he or she occupied a privileged point of view over what is surveyed (14). Mary Louise Pratt refers to this act of visual observation as the Monarch -of all- I survey-scene (Pratt 201). The narrator is metaphorically placed on a privileged position that allows him to aestheticize and evaluate the landscape. If Orientalism adopts a strategy which reduces the non-western Other to an object of scrutiny, available for control, Un Marocain New York allows a counter hegemonic terrain to thrive from the very beginning. It also endeavours to restore the voice of the subordinate through the New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 29

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

adoption of an omnipresent narrator endowed with meticulously scrutinizing eyes. Hence, the voice we encounter in the text is granted an explicit authority that dominates the object of vision, the seen, or the observed. The metaphor comes full circle when the narrator emphatically stresses the supremacy of his home country; or quite unexpectedly when he reduces New York City to a fema le body (New York est bien une femme (Elalamy 13)6 [New York is definitely a woman]), and Morocco to a phallocentric symbol: Le Maroc que jimaginais volontiers viril et pourvu dune belle moustache [] Plus tard lorsque jappris que nous tions un Royaume et non pas une Rpublique, jexprimai ce mme sentiment de puissance en imprimant sur mon banc dcolier un signe que je ne permettrai pas de reproduire ici (11) [Morocco that I proudly imagined virile and provided with a beautiful moustache . . . Later when I learnt that we are a Kingdom and not a Republic, I used to express that same feeling of power by drawing on my school bench a symbol which I shall not dare replicate here] This phallic imagery, associated with the authors native country, grants power and authority to the narrator. But the metaphor gets more complex when the reader becomes aware of New York City as a weak, vulnerable and submissive woman open to the authors desires: Je parcours une dernire fois la ville . . . ouverte mon dsir (13). New York City, in this respect, is an erotic space, a woman that is physically possessed by the masculine foreign hero. This phallocentric attitude deployed by the author appears frequently in colonial discourse where the Orient as a female body is available for penetration by the White colonizer. New York City, as a rhetorically constructed body, is what David Spurr alludes to as the eroticization of the colonized (170). This implies a set of rhetorical instances metaphors, seductive fantasies, expressions of sexual anxiety in which the traditions of colonialist and phallocentric discourses coincide (Spurr 170). Elsewhere, he argues that, this simile of sexual union is elaborated in terms of the dynamics of male desire [] represented as an infinite movement of appropriation and physical possession unbounded by the limits of time and space (171). Hence, the rhetorical images of the Orientalist ideology, where people and nations are allegorized by the figure of the female

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 30

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

body, take a subversively counter-hegemonic configuration in Un Marocain New York. The image of the conquering male body is associated with the marginal Other, whereas the eroticized space is connected with the civilized and powerful New York. The authors deliberate choice of words and phrases loaded with sexual connotations such as pntre, le va-et-vient, croquer, and sy introduit enhance the availability and submissiveness of the city associated with a Big Apple as symbol of desire and lasciviousness: Big Apple, la grosse pomme, comme on la surnomme ici, est croquer. Quelques pas dans la ville et lon est pris dans le tumulte de la rue, le va-etvient incessant de la foule, comme dans les bras dune femme infidle que lon sait vicieuse, fatale, mais dont on ne peut plus se passer. [The Big Apple, as they call it here, is ready to be chewed up. Just few steps inside the city and youre taken in the uproar of the streets, the comings and goings of the relentless crowds, caught helplessly in the arms of a vicious, fatal and unfaithful wife.] (Elalamy 12) On the other hand, as is the case with old travellers in exotic lands, the author has managed to privilege sovereignty in his text as a measure of control; he lays out the landscape before explaining and inscribing his heroic acts inside that space. The authors inland journey is loaded with ideological meanings. It attempts to dissect American society and expose some of its numerous flaws. From the very beginning, the narrator confronts an unprecedented poverty: En Amrique, il y a les villes riches et il y a les villes pauvres. Et puis il ya New York : une ville riche, riche dun million de pauvres (15). [In America, there are rich cities and there are poor ones as well. And then there is New York: a rich city, rich in a million poor people.] The authors subversive attitude remains intensely self-conscious, primarily meant to shake the West through a systematic process of reversal. The presence of a considerable number of poor people, desperately struggling for a living in New York City, allows the narrator to encapsulate a counter discourse meant to subvert the conventional stereotypes which view the racially Other as poor, weak, backward and inferior. Immediately, the reader feels that the ot herness of the West is suddenly reversed into sameness, offering

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 31

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

backwardness as a common feature uniting two seemingly irreconcilable third and first worlds (Karkaba, Stereotypes of the West 155). Sexual and moral decadence: Disorienting authority Looking back to the centre is a subversive gesture performed by Un Marocain New York. Elalamys primary aim is to construct a counter-discourse capable of dismantling the conventional Orientalist dogmas that keep circulating within the Western imagination. The West, paradoxically, emerges in the text as decadent, cruel, and bound to crumble. It is helpless because the whole system of values and beliefs is shattered. Fatal diseases, drug abuse, violence and poverty are clear indications of Americas decay in Elalamys narrative. The young teenager, caught up in a miserable condition, is revealing: De lautre cot de la rue, une adolescente plongeait sa main dans un sac poubelle noir pour en sortir des canettes vides quelles pourrait changer cinq cent la pice (30) [from the other side of the street, a teenager thrusts her hand into a black rubbish bag to come out of it with empty cans that she could sell at five cents each]. This scene is probably meant to suggest that the Western social system is crippled; American society remains demonstrably unjust and unresponsive. TV programs disseminate images of everyday life, full of horror, rape and sexual abuse. The whole episode, entitled Tel Blues depicts Americans as lustful rapists; as if American citizens paradoxically bore all the biased images often associated with the non-West. Elalamy is trying to lay bare the dynamics that undermine American society. In the section entitled le Loup et lAnneau, he successfully manages to transform the hidden transcripts of American sexual liberalism into a mere fabricated illusion: Un phallus gant, prt dcoller, une femme, les jambes bien cartes exhibant un sexe barr dune croix gamme( 38) [A massive phallus, ready to take off, a woman with wide spread legs showing off the sexual organ crossed with a swastika]. The Hells Angels Club, the main setting of le Loup et lAnneau, illustrates a deep-seated malaise of contemporary American society. Penetrating such a hellish space, the writer intends to demonstrate how deteriorated the American society is, and how vulgarized sex has become. Morality seems to be completely nonexistent; it is swept away by the New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 32

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

mechanisms of capitalism and consumption. In short, moral values are totally extinguished and the West is dying. Accordingly, the description of this public space turns smoothly into a metaphoric representation of a deep-rooted ideological crisis in modern America constructed as harbouring potential violence behind the faade of civilisation (Karkaba 157). Equally important, the presence of the narrator in the Hells Angels Club takes a self-assertive and a potentially subversive configuration. The author has managed to create what Homi Bhabha calls an empty third space (1994, 101) where the pillars of authority and power are dismantled. The bikers slogan, Fuck the Power (Elalamy 38), emphatically enhances a counter-hegemonic discourse within that empty third space which fractures and disperses authority. Instead of feeling embarrassed, or helpless, the narrator adopts a self-assertive attitude: Sans rflchir, je dboutonnai ma chemise, retroussai mes manches, gonflai la poitrine, fronai les sourcils, crispai les joues et affectai un regard de pierre (41) [Without thinking, I unbuttoned my shirt, tucked up my sleeves, inflated my chest, frowned, and with wrinkled cheeks I projected a stony gaze.] The author is defending his presence instead of repressing it; a process of authority displacement and a built-in resistance are at work. He is invested with power and granted a space to challenge the discourse of power. Surveillance is dislocated by a sharp and destructive gaze, un regard de Pierre. Being self consciously aware that he might be seen as an inferior Other, he adopts a challenging gangster -like attitude. Such an attitude constitutes a kind of response to Americas misrepresentation of its Otherness. Another signifier of a counter discourse in this particular episode becomes evident when the narrator sits himself at the bar in a conscious desire to celebrate his Moroccanness and his cultural identity: Je russis grimper sur un tabouret et commandai un Schweppes. Le barman [Skull] navait jamais entendu de cette liqueur et je dus me contenter dun grand verre deau minrale (39). [I managed to climb on a stool and ordered a Schweppes. The barman [Skull] never heard of this liquor and I had to content myself with a glass of mineral water].

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 33

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

What is mostly striking in this passage is that Skull, the barman, is dominated by a sense of uncertainty and anxiety when asked about liquor he has never heard of. He is bewildered by such unpredicted and challenging request. Undoubtedly, Skulls theory of mastery, being physically built with tattoos all over his body, undergoes a crisis. Failure to understand the authors order reveals his anxieties and this could be interpreted as a structural problem that distorts and disrupts the discourse of mastery and problematizes the Western discourse on difference. The narrator has managed to break away from the essentialist ideologies and from the different discourses that have held the Oriental Other captive inside codes of authority that speak on his behalf. His defiant self has allowed him to imaginatively acquire authority that grants him more visibility within American society. Drles de Oiseaux is another important episode that dramatizes the way he stages his selfassertion, enters the white intellectual community, and dismantles the discourse of authority. During a cocktail party given after a fashion show, the narrator appears to be more predisposed to disengage his discourse from the Orentalist tradition that emphasizes the Orientals silence and servility. His intellectual visibility is clearly illustrated in his ability to give his point of view on a wide range of subjects (Finance, ecology, Food and Fishing industries. . .). His power to deal with such subjects in such an eloquent way embarrasses one of his interlocutors and arouses the audiences curiosity: cest alors quun petit homme lallure impeccable, la cinquantaine passe,[] mit la main sur mon paule. Et Vous, me dit il, vous tes dans quoi au juste?. Je restais sans rien dire . . . Et vous, me dit -il encore, vous tes dans quoi au juste? (125). [It is at that time that a little man with a perfect look, past fifty, . . . put his hand on my shou lder, And You, ' he says to me, ' What exactly do you do? ' I said nothing . . . ' And you, ' he continues, 'What exactly do you do?] Of major significance is the narrators powerful presence among the gentlemen of the American community. He has brought his audience under total control and reduced his inter locutors to drles de oiseaux, funny birds, or birds that sing sweetly to use

New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 34

Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies

Eleazars famous verse7. But, it is certainly ironical hat this should occur in a [space] which is meant to annihilate and silence the Oriental Other (Bekka oui 105). The encounter with a lady at the international house in New York, in the episode Pauvre de moi, is another instance where the author reacts harshly to the overriding hostility of the Orientalist vision. The ladys image of Morocco reiterates biased preconceptions that target the dehumanization of Morocco and its people. She makes the following observation: Ainsi, vous tes du Maroc, me dit elle . . . ce doit tre un de ces pays ou lon a rien se mettre sous la dent (131) [So, you are from Morocco, she says - ... that must be one of those countries where you have nothing to eat]. The lady has a distorted picture of what is manifestly a different (or alternative and novel) world (Said, Orientalism 12), holding a stereotypical image of Mo rocco and Moroccans as aberrant, undeveloped and inferior. From the outset, she sees the narrator as different and treats him as a starving creature. His response is important: Je lui rappelai seulement la grande misre que jai pu rencontrer sur South Bronx au Nord du Harlem. Les boutiques ventrs, les immeubles calcins, les innombrables ghettos sans eau, ni lectricit, ou les populations sentassent, ronges par la fain, la peur, le dsespoir, les centaines de mendiants et sans abri (131-132) (italics added). [I reminded her of the great poverty which I was able see in the South Bronx, North of Harlem, eviscerated shops, decrepit buildings, the uncountable ghettos without water, nor electricity, where the population is dying of hunger, fear, despair; the hundreds of beggars and the homeless.] As Cherki Karkaba notes, this perception of New York, as a place of violence, poverty and deprivation, offers a vision which questions the stereotype of the West as Paradise, a stereotype that continues to stick in the minds of millions of potential migrants (Karkaba 155). Elalawy is ultimately aware of the injurious stereotype and the biased origin that has fabricated it. His reaction is meant to condemn the origin of the stereotype and his defiant voice emerges from the text when we later realize that the lady is turned into a static object, brought under control and silenced. She adopts a passive position and keeps contemplating the buffet: la dame parcourait du regard le magnifique buffet (132) [The lady was just staring at the magnificent buffet]. Her stare reflects her destabilized state of New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 35

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mind. Symbolically, the author has managed to control the stereotype and has imaginatively and subversively defeated the essentialist discourse of western ideology. He has also managed to estrange the lady within her own community. I will move to discuss the authors sexual exploits with American women. In an act of subversion and appropriation, he seduces several women and drives them to despair. His sexual conquest can be viewed as a strategy that aims at resisting the discourse of power. Cultural hybridity and contamination Un Marocain New York is about a Moroccan student who went to the USA to complete his studies, but it is also about the various encounters between two desperate cultures [that] clash and grapple with each other (Pratt 4). If we assume that all cultural experiences and all cultural forms are historically, radically, quintessential ly hybrid. . . (Said, Third World Intellectuals 48), then the interpretation of the protagonist/narrator grows more complex when the readers attention is drawn to the important notions of cultural hybridiy and contamination which operate literally and symbolically in the text. The focus here is on the protagonists sexual encounter with American women. The question needs to be asked: should the reader view the protagonist as a cultural hybrid? Would he be considered as the result of the cultural union of America and Morocco and the intermingling of East and West (Geesey 128-140)8. In fact, this cultural union of two cultures is intertwined with ironical twists in a segment entitled Nous York [we York]. The Nous here is a single entity that encloses two radically distinct cultures to become almost one. In this episode, the author moves across different locations and associates the emblems of modernity in New York with religious and cultural sites of his home country, disturbing the signifiers of civilization to create a space for self-affirmation and identity construction. Consequently, New York City turns into Nous York Sidi, Avec ses milles et un minarets une ville pas comme les autres (Elalamy 59); the twin towers of the World Trade Centre shift into mosques, la grande mosque du World Trade Centre dont les deux tours culminant plus de 400 mtres acceuillent les fidles (59); Central Park is reallocated as an imagined space of palm groves where people enjoy their New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 36

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couscous and tagines after Friday prayers, aprs la prire du Vendredi, les calches longent les interminables murailles de la ville et filent vers la palmeraie du Central Park.pour dgusterlincontournable couscous aux sept lgumes et le tagine (59); the sound of water carriers bells overwhelms the underground train stations, dans les stations de mtro, les porteurs deaufont tinter leurs cloches et offrent de leau fraiche (60). The reader becomes aware that an indigenous cultural form of transgression is being fostered as the author dismantles hierarchical structures, subverts and appropriates the codes of power to assert his cultural identity. Such cultural transgression, as Pnina Werbner argues, is a potential tool of resistance which upturns taken-for-granted hierarchies (Werbner, the Limits of Cultural Hybridity 133) and makes it possible for the author to establish his oppositional agency. Understanding hybridity from postcolonial studies perspective is to shed light on Homi . K. Bhabhas insightful analysis of hybridity. Bhabha suggests that the hybrid rejects the passivity and fixity implied by the already accepted notion of colonial assimilation. He stresses the fact that it entails subversion and appropriation of the codes of power and domination. Hence, the authority of cultural hybrids lies in their ability to create, what he calls, the third space of enunciations (38) which is a precondition for the articulation of cultural difference. In Bhabhas analysis, hybridity may be a strategic gesture that returns the White mans gaze and rejects cultural paradigms of purity an d fixity. It displays the necessary deformation and displacement of all sites of

discrimination and domination. It unsettles the mimetic or narcissistic demands of colonial power that re-implicates its identifications in strategies of subversion that turn the gaze of discriminated back upon the eye of power(112). Bhabhas concept of the hybrid helps to flesh out the dilemma that centers on the interpretation of the protagonist in Un Marocain New York. In an act of subversion and appropriation of the dominant codes of power, the protagonist seduces and drives a series of women into despair and psychological trauma; I insist on despair because none of his relationships with American women culminate in marriage. Instead of functioning as a contrast, he t urns into an uncanny double that disorients American identity and New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 37

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contaminates its purity. What is also worth stressing is his self-empowerment characterized by the dominance of his intellect over his emotions. This selfempowerment, through the doubling effect of hybridity, enables the protagonist to transcend the gaze of discrimination and assimilation. The authors sexual conquest s in New York may be seen as part of a battle strategy, an indication of a conscious campaign which aims to displace authority. The episode entitled La Chose is revealing. The protagonist is at the Chemists in Bleecker Street where he is supposed to buy condoms. It is clearly understood that the battle strategy takes the form of sexual exploitation, as an act of resistance and liberation. Through the way condoms are displayed in the text, one would immediately associate the Chemists with a weapons store. Durex Doublex 008, Hot Rubber Sweet, Khondomz Magnum, and Dark Rubber are names that suggest weaponry. The protagonist is sexually motivated to resist the discourse of mastery and exact his vengeance on the mechanisms of power. Accordingly, his concern with sex as a liberating force in Un Marocain New York is relevant if we consider Taib Salehs masterpiece Season of Migration to the North. The main character of Salehs novel tries symbolically to reverse the history of European colonialism by indulging in sexual adventures with British women. Mustapha Sayeed keeps saying that he is determined to liberate Africa through Phallocentric recognition that reclaims masculinity he enacts revenge on Europe for its rape of Africa (see Tayeb 139). Viewed from the same angle, Un Marocain New York allows the reading of the protagonists sexual adventures within a counter discourse paradigm which challenges the supremacy of western values and reverses the orientalized vision of the Other. It is important to notice how the author is retrospectively eroticizing and exoticizing Lori during a Boobs Party in the episode entitled Cocktail de Fruits: Deux moitis de noix de Coco tenaient ses seins prisonniers. Pendant que je lcoutais parler, je remarquai ses boucles doreilles en grappes de cerises, ses bracelets tranches dananas en latex fluo, et cette fraise des bois tatou e sur son nombril. Un vritable cocktail de fruits(66). [Two coconuts in halves were holding her jailed breasts. While I was listening to her talking, I noticed New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 38

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that her ear rings were like bunches of cherries, her bracelets like edges of a pineapple in fluorescent latex, and she had a strawberry tattooed on her belly button. A true cocktail of fruits.] Said has pointed out that the sexual possession of the female is a familiar colonial motif (Orientalism 169-190). In gendered colonial discourse, the orient is characterized by feminine attributes of sexual promise . . . untiring sensuality, unlimited desire (188), while the west is described by the masculine antithesis of those attributes, namely logic and reason. The authors descr iption of Lori deflects the romanticized and orientalized view of the Other, a strategy of subversion that turns the gaze of the racially discriminated other back upon the eye of power. The narrators reversed role is not far from that of an invader who brings despair and trauma into the lives of all those women who are caught up in the notion of the exotic and sensuous other. Andreas phrase uttered twice is revealing: Te Voil enfin [Here you are at last]. It demonstrates how she is helplessly caught within the clutches of the sensuous protagonist, desperately waiting for the appropriate occasion to dominate him, but what she receives is total neglect and rejection. Andrea, Gloria and Jenny are among many who are locked within the notion of the exotic and sensuous Other. The game of seduction is, indeed, played by both sides, the protagonist and his Harem, but it always turns out to be destructive and disappointing for the women. He often promises to see them but never meets them again.

Conslusion Un Marocain New York shows how the protagonist negotiates, subverts and reinvents Orientalist discourse in order to serve his cultural expression, and selfrepresentation. The assumptions that underscore the western perception of Otherness can be inventively inverted and subverted by the culturally and religiously different Other. Elalamys work transposes Orientalism-American style and explores the extent to which the colonized peoples engaged the orientalizing discourse, resisting its stereotypes, subverting its epistemology, amending its practices and sometimes even re-applying its stereotypes to the [Americans] themselves ( Codell and Sachko 3). The marginal create a New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 39

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space that allows for resistance to and subversion of the Western hegemonic discourse. The protagonist, the author himself, assumes authority and acquires agency engaging in a political act of writing back in order to reverse the historically established western modes of representation that operate along the parameters of inclusion and exclusion. His text also adopts mechanisms of decentering western assumptions of authority through various strategies of subversion and appropriation. The fascinating question, I have borrowed from Bill Aschroft, and which has been explored all the way through, is what happens when the marginal Other strikes back to the Centre?9

Biography Lhoussain Simour is a PhD candidate affiliated to the Moroccan Cultural Studies Centre, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University (Fez), Morocco. His primary academic focus centers on cultural studies, colonial discourse, postcolonial theory and media studies. He is currently working on the image of America in Moroccan postcolonial literature and writing a Ph.D. dissertation entitled, The Native Travels: America through Moroccan Eyes. His research interests also include Moroccan cinema, cultural festivals and cultural tourism. Notes 1 I first came across Youssouf Amine Elalamys narrative when I e nrolled for my Masters degree in Cultural Studies: Culture and Identity in Morocco. I worked on this text for my M.A. dissertation. My reading of Un Marocain New York has benefited from Professor Khalid Bekkaouis, Professor Sadik Rddads and Brian Edwards insightful remarks during my discussion of this work at the Moroccan Cultural Studies Centre, Fez. I would like to thank them and thank all the students for their indispensable role in the development of this essay. The merits of this piece are derived from the excellent advice that I have received; its shortcomings are, of course, entirely my responsibility. I am not making a claim too great for this textthat it is doing something very different from other texts in writing a travelogue to America (New York specifically) and in challenging mainstream American perceptions of Arabs (Moroccans and others). Elalamys work is not alone in dealing with the image of America in Moroccan/Arab literature. Indeed Kamal Abdel-Malek has edited a collection of works entitled America in an Arab Mirror: Images of America in Arabic Travel Literature (2000). This anthology introduces excerpts by Arab writers who have visited America New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 40

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between 1895-1995 (including Layla Abu Zayds Americas Other Face). Their narratives articulate non-monolithic and heterogeneously fostered discourses about the country and its people. America, accordingly, is seductive, but it also remains the very contrast of an Arab-centred Self that is most often rejected on cultural, religious and racial attributes. 2 The translations from Un Marocain New York, originally written in French, are mine unless stated elsewhere. 3 Robert Youngs work is an interesting guide for students and academics interested in colonial discourse analysis; it sketches the historical and theoretical foundations of postcolonial theory. Developed within an anti-colonial praxis, the book argues that anticolonial trends are hybrid processes that target a rethinking of western knowledge and power. 4 Khalid Bekkaouis insightful work deploys the notion of history as discourse to deal not only with historical documents but also with all modalities of representation and modes of expression to destabilise western universalism and subvert the conventional legacies of Eurocentric humanism. Such a will to subversion is what has mainly marked the postcolonial paradigm of resistance both from within as well as from without. 5 Abdellatif Akbib visited America in 2001 and wrote his Tangiers Eyes on America. His text is replete with powerful moments and situations which underline the counter hegemonic attitude of the author who is trying to manipulate western prejudices and stereotypes in an inventive way. 6 See Michelle Hartmans Writing Arabs and Africa(ns) in America: Adonis and Radwa Ashour From Harlem to Lady Liberty. Poets, fiction writers and intellectuals from the Arab world, all engage with the Statue of Liberty and New York City by extension, in gendered and sexualized terms in their textual journeys to the America. 7 Lusts Dominion or the Lascivious Queen, attributed to Thomas Dekker, was first published in 1657. In 1999 the Moroccan Cultural Studies Centre affiliated to Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, Fez, edited this text with an introduction and notes by Professor Khalid Bekkaoui. Lusts Dominion focuses on Eleazar the Prince of Fez. Several years before the opening of the play, King Philip has conquered Barbary, has killed King Abdela and captured his young son, Eleazar. The orphaned Prince is brought up in the Spanish court, and is eventually converted to Christianity, marries the daughter of a Spanish nobleman and turns into a crusader against the Muslim Turks. Nonetheless, the alien warrior is constantly exposed to the hostility and racial hatred of the white community, which stigmatizes him for his colour and denounces his amorous relationship with the Queen of Spain (Bekkaoui 1999, x). 8 See Patricia Geeseys article on Cultural Hybridity and Contamination in Tayeb Salihs Mawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamal. Her work discusses Tayeb Salihs Season of Migration to the North. It focuses on important cultural concepts such as hybridity and contamination that operate symbolically in the narrative, and it has inspired me in the discussion of the protagonist of Un Marocain New York as a culturally hybridized subject.

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The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures (1989), which borrows its title from Salman Rushdie's the Empire writes back with a vengeance, (1982) is one of the most significant works that deals with postcolonial cultures and texts, and postcolinality as praxis and critique. It opens up debates on issues about different aspects of postcolonial literatures, negotiates the dynamics of language in the postcolonial text, and demonstrates how these texts constitute a radical revision of the Eurocentric-based narratives. This book has been of considerable help to me in shaping my argument.

Works Cited Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, eds. The Postcolonial Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 1995. Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-colonial Literatures. London: Routledge. 1989. Ashcroft, Bill and Pal Ahluwalia. Edward Said: The Paradox of Identity. London: Routledge, 1999. Chowdhry, Geeta. Edward Said and Contrapuntal Reading: Implications for Critical Interventions in International Relations. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 36.1 (2007): 101-116. Alloula, Malek. The Colonial Harem. Translated by Myrna Godzich and Wlad Godzich. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1989. Bekkaoui, Khalid. Signs of Spectacular Resistance, the Spanish Moor and British Orientalism. Casablanca: Najah El Jadida, 1998. Bhabha, K. Homi. The Location of Culture. London: Routledge, 1994. Chapman, Michael. Postcolonialism: a Literary Turn. English in Africa 33. 2 (2006): 720. New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 42

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Clifford, James. The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature and Art. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1988. Elalamy, A.Youssouf. Un Marocain New York. Paris: Eddif, 2001. El Kouche, Mohamed. Tangier speaks: A reading in the d iscourse of three Tanjaoui writers. Voices of Tangier: Conference Proceedings. Khalid Amine, Andrew Hussey, Barry Tharaud, eds. Tanger: Altropress, 2006. Available online: http://interactiveworlds.blogspot.com/2008/03/tangier-speaks.html Geesey, Patricia. Cultural Hybridity and Contamination in Tayeb Salihs Mawsim alHijra ila al-Shamal. Research in African Literatures 28.3 (1997): 128-140. Hartman, Michelle. Writing Arabs and Africa (ns) in America: Adonis and Radwa Ashour from Harlem to Lady Liberty. International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37 (2005): 397-420. Julie F. Codell and Dianne Sachko Macleod. Orientalism Transposed: the Impact of the Colonies on British Culture. Ashgate, 1989. Karkaba, Cherki. Stereotypes of the West in Elalamys Un Marocain New York. Philologia: Journal of the Faculty of Philology, Univ. of Belgrade 6 (2008): 153-161. Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992. Rath P. Sura. Post/Past -Orientalism: Orient alism and its dis/re-orientation. Comparative American Studies 2.3 (2004): 342-59. Robins Bruce, et al. Edward Saids Culture and Imperialism: a symposium. Social Text 4 (1994): 1-24. New York Through Moroccan Eyes: (Re) / Disrouting Orientalism American-style. Lhoussain Simour. JPCS Vol.1. No.2, April. 2010. http://www.jpcs.in 43

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Robbins, Bruce. Secularism, Elitism, Progress, and Other Transgress ions: On Edward Saids Voyage In. Social Text 40 (1994): 25-37. Rushdie, Salman. The Empire Writes Back With a Vengeance. The Times, July 3, 1982. Sardar Ziauddin. Orientalism. Buckingham: Open Univ. Press, 1999. Quoted in Williams Patricks Versions of Orientalism. Paragraph (2001): 233-242. Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. London: Vintage, 1994. ---. Orientalism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978. ---. Third World Intellectuals and Metropolitan Culture. Raritan 9 (1990): 27-50. Quoted in Patricia Geeseys Cultural Hybridity and Contamination in Tayeb Salihs Mawsim al-Hijra ila al-Shamal. Research in African Literatures 28.3 (1997): 128-140. Spivak, C. Gayatri. Outside in the Teaching Machine. New York: Routledge, 1993. Spurr, David. The Rhetoric of Empire: Colonial Discourse in Journalism, Travel Writing and Imperial Administration. Duke University Press, 1993. Tayeb, Salih. Season of Migration to the North. London: Heinemann, 1969. Werbner, Pnina. The Limits of Cultural Hybridity : On Ritual Monsters, Poetic Licence and Contested Postcolonial Purifications. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 7.1 (Mar., 2001): 133-152. Wise, Christopher. A lesson in Orientalist Journalism. The Star (Jordan), November 10th, Quoted in Sura Raths Post/Past-Orientalism: Orientalism and its dis/reorientation. Comparative American Studies 2.3 (2004): 342-59.

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Young, Robert. Post colonialism: An Historical Introduction. Massachusetts: Blackwell, 2001. ---. White mythologies: Writing History and the West. London: Routledge, 1990.

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